Local recognition as being a travel expert is a goal that most good travel agents seek. As a public relations tactic, newspaper articles, quotes and mentions can result in a rush of new business. Consumers have an affinity for using a travel consultant that the media sees worthy of a mention. Many of my articles in this column have recommended the development of a good PR program as a vital, even indispensible part of a solid marketing plan. A positive mention in a local or national source is better than the most expensive advertising because it carries with it an implicit third-party endorsement of your expertise.
But getting your name in the paper is more difficult than you may think. Very likely, you are one of several travel agents in the community vying for attention from the press. The ones that eventually get their moment in the sun are the ones that methodically and persistently build relationships, send press releases and make themselves available to the media. Marketing is an active exercise, and one that demands persistence and patience.
Travel agent Chuck Flagg knows these things. According to Chuck, he has sent out “press releases galore”, offered to write columns for his local community papers, taken on speaking engagements and in general has endeavored to make himself as available as possible to the local media. Yet, for all his activity, no results. Until last Tuesday when the community paper was writing an article about the impact of H1N1 flu on travel.
Think for a moment about the reporter who needs an authority for a story on travel. Where to turn? Most likely to the paper’s files where Chuck’s former correspondence sits. Reporters have deadlines. Reporters need experts. Reporters will turn to the most accessible resource available.
You can read the result of Chuck’s persistence here.
If building a travel practice was easy, everyone would do it. So maybe you should be thankful it’s as difficult to succeed as it is. Persistence is a necessary component of building a travel practice.